Carhartt specializes in making heavy duty workwear such as Carhartt overalls, jackets, coats, coveralls, shirts, and pants. Many of the Carhartt jackets and clothing are coated with water resistance coatings and fire resistant coatings. While a great feature, these coatings can pose a challenge to those who want to soften their Carhartt jackets. 


However, you can somewhat soften them up and get rid of some of the new coat stiffness without damaging the materials in the workwear.


To begin, take everything out of your jacket pockets and put it in the washer without any other clothing. Place the washer on the smallest load setting . You’ll want to take care not to shrink the jacket although it is possible to do so if desired. But for just softening we will stick with the cold water wash setting. A heavy duty Carhartt JacketCredit: Carhartt Industries


Allow the washer to fill up with cold water and soak the jacket. Add 1 cup of vinegar into the filled washer and let to washer do its thing until it hits the agitation portion of the wash cycle. Wait for the agitation cycle to run and when it stops before the full rinse cycle. When stopped the washer should still be filled with vinegar and cold water. Let the jacket soak for a few hours to allow the fabric to soften up. 

A heavy duty work Carhartt JacketCredit: Carhartt Industries

After a few hours restart the washer and let the cycle complete. If the jacket still smells like vinegar run another quick rinse cycle. Place the jacket in your dryer on the no heat or low heat fluff cycle. However, use care with this. If you are not trying to shrink it at all skip the dryer and instead hang the coat in a cool, ventilated place to dry.  Do not attempt to wear the jacket before it fully dries. 


After dry, try on the jacket for size. If it still feels too stiff, put the jacket in the dryer on no   heat fluff with an old clean shoe and run it for a full no dry fluff cycle. Make sure the jacket is completely dry before doing this. 


Remember not to add any detergent or fabric softener to the wash cycle. This can damage the jacket and render the water or flame resistant coating ruined. And never try to dry the jacket in the dryer while wet unless you want to try and shrink the jacket.


If you want to also shrink your new Carhartt jacket to size you can check out this great article: How to Shrink a Carhartt Jacket for a better fitting jacket.